Energy Dominates Turkic Summit
Last week saw the gathering of Turkic-speaking countries in Istanbul.
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Turkey came together ostensibly to focus on fostering solidarity in the Turkic world, but energy dominated the discussions.
Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey held three-way talks on the Caspian region, natural gas pipelines and energy projects including the European Union-backed multinational Nabucco project aimed at moving Caspian gas to Europe.
Turkmenistan comments on Nabucco
One important outcome of the gathering was the positive comments made by Turkmenistan towards the Nabucco gas pipeline project.
To date, Turkmenistan has been uncommitted as to whether it will join Nabucco. The EU backed pipeline project was not mentioned when President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov gathered energy officials together on August 12th and outlined the country's export-diversification policy in detail.
"We are currently constructing the East-West pipeline," the Turkmen President. "The pipeline will be laid along the coast of the Caspian Sea. There is also Nabucco, which is associated with the project."
State owned Turkmengaz plans to build the 1,000-kilometer East-West pipeline project which will carry an estimated 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.
The project aims to create a unified gas supply system in Turkmenistan and to diversify Turkmen natural gas supplies to international markets.
“We are building an East-West pipeline that will reach the Caspian. Nabucco is about this,” said Berdymukhammedov.
The Turkmen leader’s comment closely relating the East-West project to Nabucco, brought a salvo from Nabucco foe, The Voice of Russia.
In what became music for the US’ and the EU’s ears, the Turkmen leader (Berdymukhammedov) signaled his country’s readiness to contribute to the pipelines’ construction during his talks with Azeri counterpart Ilkham Aliyev.
Many a pundit said, though, that Berdymukhammedov’s statement was little more than a planned PR stunt.” Most experts agree that Nabucco is a purely political project, which is currently being endorsed by Turkmenistan, a new major player in the region.
The Voice of Russia was also not shy in expressing its opinions of the TAPI pipeline project, which is meant to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan.
The Nabucco project is unrealistic because it has not secured any gas deliveries yet, experts explained, also questioning feasibility of the TAPI pipeline. Given the ongoing political turmoil in the region, the implementation of both projects will hardly see the light of day in the nearest future, if at all, observers said.
The United States has repeatedly trumpeted the project as an indication of success of NATO’s war effort in Afghanistan.
In this regard, they pointed out, Ashgabat touting the TAPI project is nothing but a politically tainted move, which aims to step up Turkmenistan’s regional clout.
It’s fair to guess that the press offices of before Nabucco and TAPI are likely not rushing to place Voice of Russia on their list of those to receive warm felicitations.